The Philippines have officially elected Rodrigo Duterte as their president, the former mayor of Davao City who has promised to reinstate the death penalty, impose curfews for underage citizens, restrict karaoke, and who once made a nauseating rape joke during a campaign event. Needless to say, Duterte is an authoritarian figure, but that didn’t stop him from receiving massive popular support. He edged out his nearest opponent by over six million votes and received more support in almost every demographic category.

We aren’t going to pretend to have an expert grasp on Philippine politics, except to say that corruption at the top levels of government there have left the population hoping for reform. To find out more about how the country’s people are reacting to the recent elections and how the country could change as a result of them, we reached out to three twentysomethings who voted in them to get their opinions.


Renee Juliene Karunungan, Quezon City, age 25

The recent elections went well. It was one of the highest voter turnouts in years and it was relatively peaceful. People became more involved and that was a good thing. I think, however, that the election process as a whole needs to be reformed so that it becomes more transparent and more democratic.

Since a lot of young people, and people in general, voted for Duterte and his brand of change, it means they themselves need to change, too. There was definitely a big divide during the elections. The danger is if we stop being involved after elections. There remains a lot to be done and we can’t leave it to one person to do everything. We also need to safeguard our rights as a people.

The change I can see is definitely having a more authoritarian government. This is why Duterte was elected in the first place: people wanted an authoritarian figure to “bring change” and “discipline” the country. We also saw how patriarchy and violence started becoming tolerable.  People would gladly send in death threats to anyone who spoke their opinions, and thought they of it as their right [to send the threats]. It’s ridiculous. What I want to see is for democracy and human rights to be upheld at any cost. Hopefully, as president, Duterte can set a good example instead of leading the way towards non-respect of human rights. I have always been in favor of human rights above anything else. So anything that would curtail the rights of people, including the right to fair trial and due process if one is accused of a crime, is a red line for me.


Jeff Tan, South Digos, Davao del Sur, age 29

I felt very glad the with recent election because the president I voted for won. And it’s the first time in Philippine history to have a president from Mindanao. I’m [also] from Mindanao.

The results mean a lot, especially for the young ones, because this president is very popular in Davao City, where he is a former mayor [and he is known] for being a good leader. I think people are tired with the government. They need new faces, new government, and new people to lead.

For the whole population, especially in Luzon, they do not know really know [much] about Duterte, but people in Visayas and Mindanao are eager to have change in the system. [It’s a] corrupt system. For how many years? Only people [from] Luzon [have been] leading the country, and look what happened. It’s time for the Philippines to have a real change. And this is what Duterte promised during his campaign. A big change.

I’ve been living in Davao for almost four years now, [and] I have witnessed [Duterte’s] capabilities and how he handles the people. Examples: curfews, no smoking zones, speed limits, [dealing with] illegal drugs. These [policies] are well implemented in Davao. The man really implements rules and laws, and anyone who would not abide will be punished in accordance with the law

I see Philippine politics levelling up. Filipinos are now smart and tired of corruption. We need something new. Politics in Philippines were just the same for the past 20 years. Now somebody stood up and promised change. Let’s give it a shot.


Eira Raye Gruta, Los Baños, Laguna, age 24

These elections have been very emotional. I’m a third time voter, my first time being in the 2010 Presidential elections (ah, simpler times). Compared to the two other times, these elections have been draining because of the influx of information on social media and in real life. There was so much false information going around, and my first instinct was to always validate details. These things can highly affect our votes. Sadly, not everyone cares to verify what they see on social media or [what they] hear on the streets, and it was really frustrating to see the wrong information going around. I’m all for democracy, but all I ask is for people to be able to make their decisions based on correct information.

For young people, I guess it helps us see how democracy works. It doesn’t mean that everything you see in your circle (especially on social media) will translate into votes. There’s a bigger world outside of our circles, and we have to see and accept that. The same [goes for] the population, I hope they feel that it is democracy working. I hope Filipinos feel that their votes really matter.

I am opposed to death penalty, no matter what crime you committed. Crime is not actually caused by evil, there is a reason behind it, and that is what has to be worked on. We have to fight poverty, work on education, and generate more jobs, among other things. I believe that people can be rehabilitated, and I think that that may be better for even the victims. Revenge isn’t always sweet.

[In the future] we will be more vigilant. There are convicted criminals who made it into office (or almost, i.e. the VP race). It’s crazy what you see on TV. I have high hopes for cleaner politics. I don’t know how, but hopefully we elected the right people. In any case, I know we as a people can always be watchdogs of the government. It’s easier now with the internet and all. I hope it stays that way.